Oh, and I added a poll: Internet Access Versus Sex. If you could only have one, which would you choose?
I saw this article, and it made me wonder...(sorry to sound Bradshaw-esque).
I saw this article, and it made me wonder...(sorry to sound Bradshaw-esque).
Posted at 6:58 PM
OK, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, I do find it odd that the New York Times reports on the recession and then in their weekly magazine advertises the most insanely outrageously expensive luxury goods I've ever seen. And let's not forget the beef-jerky handbag. Or Candace Bushnell's television treatment of Lipstick Jungle, which does for the Manhattan dwellers living in the midst of economic ground zero what Sex and the City did for skinny girls eating like truck drivers.
So, I ask the obvious question: What Recession?
Posted at 12:22 PM
Met my friend S (not my apparently former friend S who no longer returns my calls or emails ever since my attendance with the Good Doc dropped off) for lunch today at the Bedford Post. We both live nearby, and we've been meaning to go there for a while now, always joking that we're hoping to run into the owner, who happens to be Richard Gere.
It's a very cute place. Basically, a dining room at a country inn. There's a "yoga loft" there too, although no Ashtanga is offered there...yet.
Two minutes after we were seated, who should walk in but...the owner, himself. That might not seem surprising unless you've been to Tribeca Grill and never seen DeNiro and Southern Hospitality and never seen Justin (or Planet Hollywood, and never seen...anyone). S and I managed to remain demure and composed notwithstanding that we had been talking about this moment for months. Of course, now that it had arrived, what was there to do but make sure that we didn't chew with our mouths open or get spinach in our teeth?
Mr. Gere seemed to be puttering around the grounds. At one point, I looked outside the window and saw him walking by in his parka. S and I enjoyed a nice lunch, so nice in fact that we wanted to prolong it a bit. So we ordered coffee and desert. I got the pistachio gelato, which I just kind of picked at because it didn't really have that gelato-creaminess that I remember from a long ago trip to Rome with my family.
But I didn't tell the truth about it when Richard sidled up to our table and said, "Isn't that ice cream the best?! I just love it, myself!"
I was all, "Yeah, mmmm, it's so good!!"
Before he walked away, I asked him if he was planning to offer Ashtanga classes at the yoga loft. He said that I should talk to his wife about it because she was in charge of scheduling the classes. So, I just have to talk to Carey. She's supposed to be in tomorrow.
The whole thing, which wasn't really much of a thing at all, reminded both S and me of the time when we were first years in law school at NYU, and our classmate, John Kennedy (Jr.) suddenly materialized at our table in the commons and asked us who we had for Constitutional Law.
Silly as it may seem, you just don't forget those little moments.
Posted at 5:54 PM
So, it was that time of year again, the time of year when I just can't escape the fact that I once had cancer, no matter how much I try to ignore my misshapen Barbie boobies, the time of year when I absolutely can't put off dealing with my bone density issues any longer.
I can't blame it all on the breast cancer and the chemo, which destroys bone density as swiftly as it destroys cancer cells. By the time I had my baseline bone density test at age 36, my really sucky eating habits (by which I mean, failing to eat enough, or enough nutritious food to support my 40-50-miles per week running habit) had already done a number on my bone density, leaving me at high risk for osteoporosis. My test results even before chemo were borderline, leaving my oncologist, Dr. H, to put me on a once-yearly regimen of Zometa, which is a bone-building drug that, at least at that time, was given on-label to patients with cancer in their bones and off-label to patients who have or are at risk for osteoporosis. I don't know who gets it on-label now. For all I know, it's given to patients at a high risk for root canal, since things change so swiftly in this area of medicine, and I'm not exactly paying much attention anymore (kinehura). Be that as it may, I'm scheduled to be on the program for the rest of my life, as far as I know, along with annual bone density scans.
Friday was my day. I had already rescheduled twice. But this seemed like the best week to be incapacitated by side effects. No major social plans. No skiing. Fuck yoga anyway, I've done enough in the past five or so years to justify a few days off if need be. All week long, I suffered headaches and quietness, by which I mean, under stress and anxiety, I become uncommunicative, speaking only when spoken to, not answering my cell phone, basically blowing off the world. I did watch a LOT of House, M.D., which is on reruns approximately a million times a week. I did manage to get myself to SUNY Purchase to try out their gym, which I am now entitled to use since I am now officially a college student there, but that was just a momentary lapse of bad cheer. And I had to do a LOT of inversions to make it worth my while. Inversions are quite the mood enhancing drug, you know, and entirely legal.
Anyway, Friday came, and I drove my unhappy, resentful ass into Fort Washington, where I stood behind a 30-ish woman with long, wavy red hair as I waited to register for my bone density test. The redhead was pretty and perky and informed the drone that her mother was there with her. I looked behind me and the redhead's mother was, indeed there, white haired and cheerful like her daughter. And then I waited some more. The redhead was finished. But the drone behind the desk was ignoring me.
"Excuse me, Miss? May I register too now?"
"Oh...sorry...I thought you were her mother." So sayeth the drone.
"EXCUSE ME? Her mother?"
Think. Think of a good response! Think!!
"Yeah, well, I'm sure you understand, since you must be at least 65 or so."
The drone, who was no more 65 or so than I was the redhead's mother snickered. The redhead just looked perky.
If that was the end of the indignities I suffered on Friday, then that would have been fine by me. Unfortunately, well, there's more. I still had to have my scan, and I still had to get my drugs. And it all went down something like this:
The guys who did my bone density scan took a quick history after he called me into his office. It started with him asking me, "So, do you still weigh about 125?"
Dear God!! Was I being punk'd?
I told him, "Try about 105." I think that he looked up from his charting then. I think. I hope. I really am pretty sure that he hadn't looked at me until that moment. But I can only hope.
Then it was time for the scan. I had to mildly contort myself for him to get the pictures he wanted, and one of the contortions involved - I kid you not - him strapping my right foot to a wooden prop of sorts. That's when he noticed that my jeans had metal studs. "You'll have to pull those down now."
Yes, but my leg was strapped to a prop. Whatever. At least he gave me a sheet to cover up.
Later, in the chemo room (and I could stop right there - those two words should be enough to ruin anyone's day), it took two needle sticks for the nurse to get the IV into my arm. At least she didn't call me old or fat. She DID ask me for my health care proxy. Was there a chance I was going to die at that moment, I wondered?
20 minutes of cold saline and icky drugs pouring through my veins, I walked out, a bit woozy. The elevator seemed to take forever, and I was too tired to stand up. You'd think there would be benches in the elevator bank on the chemo floor in a hospital. But no. So, I slumped down and crouched on the floor. A nice building custodian asked me if I needed help. I guess I looked like I could use some. But I was like, "I just got tired of standing." Then I felt stupid because he probably stands all day long.
I drove myself home and curled up on the sofa to watch television. Every commercial made my mouth water. America runs on Dunkin? I wanted to run on Dunkin. KFC? Give me some of that, please. House eating a roast beef sandwich? Drool. I didn't know that cravings were a side effect of Zometa. My stomach was kind of woozy though, so I really couldn't take a chance on eating anything other than matzah and apricot jam.
Later, it was time for dinner, and felt compelled to drive to Boston Market to pick up a rotisserie chicken and some cornbread. Wonder why. I had them cut the chicken into quarters, and when I got home, I put each quarter on the plate and promptly inhaled one. I might have eaten the plate if I could. Then I promptly went upstairs and hurled, and I say "hurled" because of the velocity at which everything in my stomach exited my body.
Today I woke up and could eat only white foods.
But I did manage to read the first 100 pages of the second Twilight Book. Damn, but I do love the vampires. And now, apparently, I am feeling well enough to write.
Posted at 7:38 PM
I have a super-awesome practice. Everything clicks. Strength AND flexibility. Not one pose was unattainable (okay, well, I touched one toe at a time in Kapotasana, but still, my Kapotasana B was so good that it made up for it), and everything just felt great.
There is NO explanation other than the fact that I had a very bad tummy ache yesterday and felt very empty today. But maybe it was also because I didn't eat or drink anything between 7 am and noon, when I started to practice, and all I ate at 7 was a Balance Bar and 16 oz of coffee.
Oh, why bother trying to figure it out? It comes and goes. Tomorrow will suck. Or it won't.
This is very boring, no?
Posted at 3:53 PM
And by full practice, I mean Full Primary plus all of my Second Series poses (that means, at this point, up to Eka Pada).
Yoga Sutra today. Yep. I went today because I had an appointment in the city with a breast cancer survivor from Virginia, who had contacted me via email to ask me to teach her some yoga. She was going to be in the city for Thanksgiving, and these plans went way back - months actually - so by GOD, I was going to make sure to be in the city at the designated time and place. That meant that if I intended to practice, it was going to have to be in the city.
My original intention was to go to Bikram. But as I was on the train, I thought...hmmm...Ashtanga...I want to do some of that...maybe I don't want to go stand on one leg for 60 seconds at a time in a 100 degree room....um....Yoga Sutra?
And so I went.
And it was a good practice. Not particularly hot in the room. Val's shala takes the award for the juiciest environment. And zero assists until Supta Kurmasana, and even then, I had to beg. I literally had to BEG.
She-C was like, "You can do this yourself." I was like, "I know, but I do that EVERY day. Today, I want a treat...please? Pretty please???"
Then nothing til Pasasana, where I was torn a new asshole for not putting my heels down. I gotta love She-C. Such a tough cookie, that one. I NEVER put my heels down at home, so how would I be able to suddenly do it on command? Still, one can hope, I suppose.
Then no Bhekasana assist. I have to say, it's a very strong pose for me, and if ever there were someone who didn't need that assist, it would definitely be me. My toes are practically flat on the ground - I guess my knees are pretty supple, because it can't be my hip flexors. My upper body is not up like an up-dog, but I can hold myself up to some extent. Anyway. Nothing at all until Ustrasana, and THAT assist came in the form of, "Do that at home. NOT HERE."
I still don't know how she saw me at the wall.
She got my fingers to my toes in Kapotasana, with a minimum of drama, but she wasn't happy with my breathing.
It's ROUGH in the city. CT is much more lalala. Both have their place. It's all good.
Posted at 9:40 PM
You just hang. Over the bed. Holding weights.
Okay, maybe that isn't so intuitive for everyone. So, here is what you should bear in mind;
Your lower back probably bends pretty well already. But nor so much your upper back. How do you know this? Well, if you look in the mirror or take a photo of yourself in a backbend, you might notice that you literally fold at your lower back, while your upper back is flat.
The bed hang can change that.
Lie on the bed, with your shoulders just off the bed. Hang. Raise your arms overhead. Notice whether your shoulders tend to hunch in as you do so. If so, focus on externally rotating your arms in your shoulder sockets to broaden across the collar bones. Let the arms hang down. Heavy. Allow gravity to do its work.
If you want to up the intensity, add weights. Have the weights handy on the bed - five or eight pound dumbells to start. Set up for a bed-hang, and take hold of the weights. Gently lower your hands, weights in hand, overhead. Gently. Maintain the open collarbones. Allow gravity to do its work. Feel your chest crack open.
I use ten-pound weights - I am strong, and it feels good. Use your judgement. You want a stretching feeling in your chest and shoulders, not a ripping sensation. Start with a low weight and work your way up only to the point where you feel the gravitational pull.
You can also do this work with a block standing vertically under your upper back - between the shoulderblades. For this, a lower weight is probably sufficient - it is for me. With bent elbows, take the weights overhead and gradually let the arms straighten and hang towards the floor.
For the thoracic spine to bend, the chest has to be willing to open. This allows that to happen, at least for me, in a dramatic way.
Be careful. Use the lowest weights needed to create that gravitational stretch. Maybe you just need to hold soup cans to start. No need to get injured. No need to rush or push.
If it doesn't feel really good, then stop! Maybe you're not ready yet. Maybe you need to lie on a ball or just hang over the bed without weights. Remember: if it doesn't feel good, don't do it.
Posted at 11:06 PM
Yes, today, I easily touched my toes in Kapotasana (with assistance from Val). If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you know it's not the first time I got hands to feet. BUT....it is the first time that they got there without the searing feeling of skin, tendons and muscles tearing, and without the numbness that followed. It was AWESOME!!
And it's all because of the bed-hang-with-weights. Which is all because of my friend, Melissa, who practices at Val's, and Val, who told me that what I needed to do was to open my UPPER back, because my lower back is open enough (for now), but my upper back was barely bending.
So, today, I told Val that I had gotten my right toe on my own yesterday. So, she came over to me and put my left hand on my left foot....and then my right. Made perfect sense. And I breathed. And I breathed!
Not that any of this matters. But it kinda does. Not that it should. But it kinda does just the same.
Posted at 4:29 PM
I can touch it! In Kapotasana. Myself!! Not my left. Not yet. But someday? YES!!! Someday!!!
I took some video footage but ran out of space before I could come back up from Kapo B. But still, this is a huge improvement from where I was at a year ago....
Gotta love those bed hangs...
Posted at 1:13 PM
YAY!!! I mean, I THINK I am. I have to get in first. And I have to work out my schedule. And I have to get student loans to pay for it. But other than that, I am SOOOO going to grad school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And when I am done, I will actually be able to do something with my life that doesn't require working long hours behind a desk for people who just push money around!!!
I am soooooo motivated now!
Posted at 9:52 AM
The new program continues:
Second Series with Richard today. Tomorrow Primary. Tuesday 1/2 and 1/2. Wednesday Bikram or a Kundalini DVD, depending on my mood, and largely depending on how cold it is (the colder it is, the more I want Bikram, and vice versa). Thursday 1/2 and 1/2 with Val. Friday, Primary.
When I say Primary, I should note that I always include Pasasana, usually after Mari D.
And whenever I am practicing at home, I always include the Samakonasana and Hanumanasana cycle that Tim Miller taught us at the workshop. It really really helps me. Someday, perhaps, I will get rid of it, when I am more open in the hip flexors. But that could be a very very very long time from now. And even as I write this, I think, perhaps I wouldn't want to get rid of two really awesome poses that I won't ever have as part of any "series" (because lord knows, I am never going to practice up to Samakonasana in any Ashtanga series, unless at some point they add it into Primary or Second Series).
And I usually warm my spine up with some Kundalini "stomach grinds" and "camel rides".
Oh, and I have taken to hanging over my bed with weights in my hands too as a pre-yoga warmup.
I am definitely going way off the page here. And I am LOVING it. It's still Ashtanga, but I'm coloring WAY outside the lines.
ALSO, I have made a promise to myself to walk every day, minimum of 30 minutes. I have so much time on my hands. It is insane not to be outside in the fresh air for some of it. When I lived in the city, I used to walk Lewis-the-Bagle three times a day, so I think I can handle adding a little nature-walking to my life. Until summer, when the gardening kicks in again.
Posted at 9:27 PM
I did Ana and Ravi's Warrior Workout today, and afterwords, I was so pumped and spinally flexy that I WANTED to do some backbends.
And so, I did.
Felt great, so I took some film.
Saturdays are Kundalini days around here from now on. What a painless and fun way to keep the spine flexy while resting from Ashtanga!
Posted at 2:32 PM
The only reason I was even watching at all this season was to see the relationship between Callie and Erica develop. It was adorable. Sure, like everything else on that show it was exaggerated. But I loved it.
They had to kill it. And while they were at it they had to fire the talented Brooke Smith, without even the courtesy of two weeks notice.
Bye, bye, Mer and Der and all your bullshit.
Posted at 7:21 AM
Saw it today. LOVED it. Jeremy Piven was entertaining, although his role was the least interesting. Elisabeth Moss, well, what can I say? I adore her, and I adore her Mad Men character, Peggy, and she was playing a variation on Peggy, although with a crucial element missing (as it was written, not as she played it). But DAMN do I love that Raul Esparza! Who IS this guy? He is amazing. And hot.
And the title seems so incredibly appropriate to the plight of the Ashtanga yogi...as we speed the plow through the same damn furrow, every single day.
But the past two days, it's been like a brand new furrow. A brand new plow even. Today, I woke up and looked forward to pulling out the mat and doing Primary. So, yesterday full Second, today full Primary, tomorrow half and half. No longer the same ole same ole.
Posted at 6:34 PM
I might. But I'm not saying...
Posted at 8:40 PM
Looks like we might be spending some time together this winter, me and Richard. I got up this morning, did my morning chores, and then at 9:30 a.m., I did the unthinkable...I got out my mat. I am hardly every motivated to practice at home so early, but I think a few days of non-practice had finally gotten to me (I had a ragingly awful UTI this weekend that sent me to the emergency room at 3 a.m. on Saturday night. I got my antibiotics and felt gradually better over the course of Sunday and Monday. But I wasn't feeling well enough to practice. The thought of stretching my abdomen gave me nausea. And just the thought of jumping in and out of poses made me exhausted. I did end up taking a walk in the woods late yesterday afternoon, which kind of marked my crossing over into feeling well again. But I digress....)
I really enjoy my Kundalini DVDs lately, but I kind of wanted some Ashtanga. And I knew that I would be much better served by following the vinyasas, rather than allowing myself to do research whereever I wanted. In short, I needed discipline. And then I saw my Richard DVD. Last year, I bought his Second Series DVD, and I think I watched it once, maybe even tried to practice along once. But it was so out of my grasp, I just couldn't really feel it.
Happily, today, I did the whole thing. I had to stop it at Pasasana because that was essentially the first time I ever Pasas'ed without having done ANY twisting first. And so, I needed to take time to get into it. I also had to stop at Yoga Nidrasana because I looooove that pose, and for some reason, I just wasn't getting into it as deeply as I normally do. I suspect it has to do with side effects of the antibiotics (a bit of nausea and stomach bloating, plus a bit of water retention) because it can't have anything to do with my diet, which has been remarkably clean for the past few week or so (I guess I wasn't feeling well but didn't realize it until the infection became acute).
Then no more stopping at all. Of course, I don't even bother to try to Karandavasana myself up. I just stay in Pincha Mayurasana. My assumption, for better or for worse, for righter or for wronger, is that if I make a habit of doing this DVD, I will eventually get better at everything, and will even be able to attempt the Karanda.
See, all this time, I've been drinking the Ashtanga Kool-Aid. You know, the stuff that makes you think you don't "deserve" a pose because you can't do some other pose. The stuff that makes you think that there are no "spirals" and "loops" involved in the practice - just place your hand and all is coming. The stuff that makes you think that you need a teacher to babysit your practice every friggin day. The stuff that makes you think that you dare not mix types of yoga. The stuff that makes you think that only Ashtanga is real yoga and the rest is some pathetic approximation. The stuff that makes you think that Ashtanga is all you need to stay healthy and fit. The stuff that makes you think that Ashtanga is appropriate for every body at every age, no matter what the individual has been through physicaly, no matter how long an individuals arms, legs, fingers, torso, no matter what the individual does for a living, no matter what the individual's life circumstances. The stuff that makes you think that the word "criminal" isn't an oxymoron when used in the context of discussing yoga. The stuff that makes you believe that you don't have the right to do whatever poses you want whenever you want.
But it's not working for me. I'm being present, and I'm being mindful. And one of the first things I learned as a newbie yogi was that the reason we suffer is that we try to peg ourselves. We try to create an identity, and when we don't live up to that identity, we suffer. The identifier,
"I am an Ashtangi" has the potential to make me suffer because it won't allow me to practice poses that make me feel good, that make me feel accomplished, that make sense to my body on any given day. I can practice Ashtanga without identifying with all of that though, and that is what I set out to do, henceforth.
I am going to stop practicing Primary and Second on the same day. It is just too fucking much. TOO MUCH. And if and when it isn't too much, I will do it again. Mindful. Present. Reality testing. For the forseeable future, or until it no longer makes sense, I am going to practice Primary, plus maybe Pasasana after Marichyasana D - because it feels so damn good to do so RIGHT NOW on some days - and feel really FUCKING good about myself on those days. And on other days, I will practice Second with the Richard DVD unless and until I no longer feel that I need the rhythm of his teaching to get me through it without a lot of research and bullshit thrown in.
No one is paying me to practice a certain way. There is no prize for following the rules of some Indian men who will never know me and the people who follow their teachings. I respect that they believe in the teachings. But I am not much of a joiner - never have been. I try to be a joiner, but it never sticks for very long.
I won't say I'm a maverick because that's too gross. But I definitely find my own way when I find that the other way no longer makes sense. And something clearly isn't making sense here for me. So, I'm over it. And I'm proud.
From here on in, when it comes to yoga, and particularly, Ashtanga, I am opening up my world to allow other possibilities in. And right now, that means practicing all of Primary sometimes, and all of Second sometimes, even if....shock upon shock, I can't bind in Kapotasana without being painfully physically wrenched into it....and even if....oh dear god, say it isn't so...I have to hold my leg behind my head with one hand in Eka Pada. Because you know what? THAT will change. In time. And in the meantime, I loooooove those Seven Headstands. And everything that goes before them. Whether I can do them skillfully or not.
And I won't be ashamed to go to the occasional Bikram class. Or to pop in my Mantra Girl or Ana Brett DVDs. Because those are damned good fun and really really hard work too.
Bottom line: I am smart enough to not need to be boxed in by some set of rules that don't really have anything to do with me.
And I know, absolutely, as an absolute matter of fact, that this method of practice WILL be to my benefit. Physically, spiritually, emotionally, even monetarily.
Posted at 11:24 AM
If you're in NYC (and I have just learned - L.A. and Seattle) make sure that you don't leave your voting venue without "proof of voting"...lest you miss out on "Sextoys for Votes", courtesy of Toys in Babeland. The toy pictured to the left is the one that registered Democrats get. Kidding, although the other toy is the "Maverick Sleeve" (pictured below), which might come in "handy" if you have a thing for Sarah Palin.
Unlike politicians, sex toys really do transcend party lines.
How come no one in Westchester thinks of these things?
Posted at 9:02 PM
Yesterday, Brian saw Bill Clinton walking along the road in Mt. Kisco (sister town to Chappaqua, where Clinton lives). It was kind of in the middle of nowhere, across the street from a Friendly's and around the corner from cemetery. Brian was with his friend D and D's dad. Apparently D's dad called out, "Hey Bill!". I asked Brian, "Do you think it's an omen, you running into the last Democratic president right before the election?" Brian asked me, "What's an 'omen'?"
I just sat through the worst movie ever: "Gerry". Nothing happens in it. Well, two things happen, really, and neither of them are particularly interesting, although theoretically the second one should have been. I think what is supposed to be interesting is the way that the shots mirror what must be the emotions of the characters, or what you might figure to be the emotions of the characters if they weren't severely handicapped by utter stupidity. Come to think of it, "Gerry" is kind of like "Beavis and Butthead Get Lost In The Desert", minus almost all dialogue and minus all comedy. I just read that there are only 100 shots in this 100 minute movie, which means that each shot is averages 60 seconds. Can you imagine? Try.
And then there was Halloween. Which I hate, like all redblooded American parents do after their kids grow out of their pumpkin-onesies. And for me, someone who feels anxious in large crowds, it is particularly unpleasant.
Since I live in the middle of nowhere, no one ever rings my doorbell. I guess that makes things easy for me, since I don't have to worry about staying home to man the door. On the other hand, it means that I have to drive my kids elsewhere for trick-or-treating. On the other other hand, most people of my town are in the same boat, so it has evolved over the years (I am told) that 90 percent of all trick-or-treating happens in just three small neighborhoods.
Neighorhood Number One is famous for its Halloween Pyrotechnics. The houses are on 1/8 acres, and so there's a LOT of theatrics per square foot: smoke machines in makeshift front lawn graveyards, adults in costume as they give out candy, strobe lights, noise machines, fire pits, trampolines filled with ghouls, scary movies projected onto the sides of houses. HUGE HUGE crowds. If you want to "see and be seen", this is the place. Of course, it's really dark, and everyone is wearing black. And I think people come to Neighborhood Number One from other towns as well. To me, the drawback is the chaos. To the kids, the drawback is that each house gives out only one piece of candy (and I'm told that they still run through 30 bags apiece).
Neighborhood Number Two is famous for its generosity. They give out giant candy bars and dump bowls of candy into your bag. Also, the older kids hang out there, so there's the cool factor. The neighborhood is one-acre zoning, and quite hilly in parts, so it takes a bit longer to get around, but apparently, it's worth it if you do. Rating: Highest Wow Factor.
Neighborhood Number Three is a development right off of the Old Post Road, which itself is right off of Main Street. In other words, centrally located, which is a big selling point for me. Another The decor is nothing compared to Neighborhood Number 1, but everyone in this particular neighborhood gives out handfuls of candy, or leaves the candy on the stoop and lets you just grab what you want. Plus, it's a condo development, where half of the houses are attached in twos, and the other half are stand-alone but with almost no space between. So, you can get a lot of candy really quickly. Rating: Highest Efficiency.
Both of my kids were invited to Halloween parties, and then Brian ended up in the Neighborhood Number 3. I met Adam at Neighborhood Number 1, after which he expressed frustration because of how little candy he felt he had scored (only 103 pieces). So, we drove over to Neighborhood Number 2 and filled his bag to the brim in record time.
I feel sort of exhausted today. Did Bikram yesterday plus all of my Ashtanga poses from Mari A on. Man, was I loose after that Bikram class. It's funny - I complained halfway through the class that the fans were blowing on me, but ultimately, the fact that I didn't get insanely sweaty the way I do when I take Bikram in Manhattan, meant that I had some juice left for my Ashtanga poses afterwards. Sometimes less IS more.
Did I just say that?
Posted at 7:49 PM
My cousin, Debpc, of Finding Om, suggested Kundalini as an antidote for my boredom. And I just have to say....YAY! I dug out my Ana Brett and Ravi Singh Navel Power DVD and after 75 minutes of core work and heavy breathing...wow. And after two days of that, I found my Mantra Girl Advanced Kundalini DVD, and same thing...only it was more than core work. It was legs and arms. And I am exhausted today.
I went to the Good Doctor yesterday, which was an exercise in non-attachment for me, but more about that later. It was nice to be there, and great to be in his room and with S and J as well, but there's issues that may be insurmountable as far as me being a regular for now. More about THAT later too.
I want to get my dog out for a hike because finally the weather is nice again. And then I want to try to do my practice a bit later when my body is a bit less fatigued (how hiking does that for me must be a mystery to some, but probably not to most people who read this blog).
Anyway, I will elaborate on things later.
Posted at 11:35 AM
It's that time of year again, when the sight of the leaves, turned shades of gold and red and brown, and the smell of apples and pine cones and frost in the air bring me right back to a time six years ago, I was spending an awful lot of time sitting in a reclining chair on the 9th floor of the Atchley Pavillion, staring across the Hudson at the breathtaking foliage, needle in my arm infusing Cosmopolitan-red and urine-yellow potions into my veins, poison that held the vague promise of killing the cancer cells that might or might not have been plotting a mutiny on the mother ship that was my body.
It's a lovely place here. Truly spectacular in the fall. And I am thrilled to come here with hair that cascades past my neck and the dark, mascaraed fringe around my eyes and tiny little clothes that fit me just so. It's a thrill to be able to be here at all, but it's especially sweet to be here in what appears to be full, robust health.
I used to come here in my pajamas. Or what had become my pajamas. Stretchy pants, sweatshirts, I slept in them, i stayed in them all day as I melted into the living room sofa, my lifeline to the world being my laptop and my childrens' nanny.
When I come here, I'm reminded. When I come here I'm vulnerable. History could repeat itself. And the next time, it becomes a lifelong battle, rather than a battle followed by an uneasy cold war.
Today the women in the waiting room are chatty. Mary, whom I would guess to be about sixty, sits across from me, a porta-cath tape peeking out of her blouse. She's enjoying an apricot tart that the women in the "support room" gave her. She sees me admiring the pastry and offers me a piece, which I decline. She asks me if I am new. I tell her I am old. Six years "old". She seems happy to hear that and wants to know how many lymph nodes I had at diagnosis.
She soon learns that our cases are very different. She had tumors in both breasts and mets to the central lymph node in the chest. Although the cancer was not visible in any organs, she was still considered stage IV. Uncurable. Treatable. It's been two years now. She takes Herceptin, like I did. We smile as we talk about how lucky we are to have been Her2Neu positive, making us eligible to take Herceptin.
A much older woman is wheeled in by what appears to be her caregiver. She joins in the conversation, as does a woman of about my age with greyish dark hair that looks to be newly sprouted. I guess her to be less than a year out of diagnosis, and she confirms. The much older woman is here for her first and maybe only visit with Dr. H: she is 83, had a lumpectomy that revealed a low grade, non-spreading type of breast cancer. Chemo is probably neither necessary nor a desirable option at her age, 83. Her name turns out to be Mary too.
The younger woman begins asking me about nutrition and lifestyle. She asks me what I like to eat for lunch. I ask her why that particular question. She expresses concern over nitrates in luncheon meats. I tell her that I don't eat meat anymore and that my favorite lunch is peanut butter and banana on whole wheat bread. She gets called in, and I give her my email address if she wants to ask me more questions.
Now it's my turn. I undress and wait for Dr. H in the examining room. She asks me if there's anything new. She always puts it that way. I tell her everything's fine. When her back is turned, I say, "But there is ONE thing...."
Dr. H spins around. Her face is shattered. She doesn't even seem to try to hide it. I must have really taken her by surprise. I had no idea.
"It's NOTHING!" I assure her.
Writing that makes me laugh.
"It's just that I think I'm developing osteo-arthritis in a couple of fingers."
We laugh. We talk about my knuckles. She examines me, and all is well.
But a thin pervasive terror hangs in the air just the same, and even as I walk out into the lobby once again, her expression, the look on her face as she turned to hear what I had to say in that instant of misapprehension: it is something that cannot be erased.
Posted at 2:31 PM
Here's my latest Huff-Post post. To my commentator who suggested that yoga is boring me, perhaps because I am only practicing asana, well, I actually talk about that a bit in this article. But the bottom line for me is that asana is asana, and if I were doing more than asana, my asana practice would still bore me nonetheless.
I did have a delightful practice today. Who knows why, although I am sure that the fact that I ate only Hot and Sour Soup for dinner last night helped. Empty belly always helps when it comes to twisting and binding and lifting and jumping.
Then I ate half a jar of Nutella and completely null and voided all the benefits.
Posted at 12:05 AM
Nothing left to do in the garden now but watch everything shrink and die. And that's depressing. And so, I am doing some winter gardening - also known as winterizing the hairstyle. I've abandoned my curls for the foreseeable future, with the help of a $10 box of chemicals courtesy of Ogilvie (of home perm fame) and a $13 bob from Supercuts. I'm super-pleased with the straightening results, not quite as pleased with the bob results, having had Katie Holmes in mind as a hair role model (BEFORE she got the mom haircut that she's currently sporting), and ending up with what seems to be more Suri Cruise. Ah well. It will grow back. I always figure: if I've withstood being bald as a cueball with no eyelashes or eyebrows, I can withstand any unfortunate haircut. And this one isn't that unfortunate. It's just not as casual and "sexy" as I usually like my hair to be. It will grow back. It will grow back. I just keep telling myself that.
Here's an attempt at sass - to make up for the lack of long waves to swing about...
Oh, and the yoga? Doing it. Bored as hell. But doing it. Hiked three miles every day except Wednesday as well, which helps to alleviate the boredom.
Waiting for the stable some renovations before getting back on Chance The Horse, by the way, as I know some of you were wondering.
Posted at 12:00 PM
BORED BORED BORED
Stand at the front of the mat. Sun Salutation A. Again. Again. Again. Again. And then Sun Salutation B. Again. Again. Again. Again. Then the standing poses. The same ones I've been doing forever. And will always be doing. Because even if I quit Ashtanga, how many ways are there to stretch and twist your body anyway? And then the balancing poses, and then more standing poses. And the whoomp - jump to sit. Try to fly through the seated postures, but find the boredom setting in something awful at Janu Sirsasana A. Can't I skip this one? And the next one? Maybe just do C? But then I'd be missing those strength-building vinyasas...can't have that. Then the Marichyasanas. No tolerance there for not-wrist-binding, and so I slow down a bit to make sure I catch my wrists or even my forearm, higher, higher, at just the right angle so that....so that what? I don't know. It's pointless. But I do it. Again. Lately I've been sneaking in a Pasasana somewhere between Mari C and D. Or after D. To add excitement to my utter enui.
Then comes the dreaded Navasana. Boring, repetitive. It's like Sun A but on my ass. BORING. Then Boringpidasana, which adds nothing to my leg-behind-head skillset. Then what could be an interesting pose - Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana - becomes a prana-stealing obsession as I rock back and forth to get my legs at just the right angles so that I can bind without assistance. Will I ever be able to bind with my legs in Dwi Pada? Doesn't seem possible to bind with the legs already crossed. Why? Is it the outward pressure my thighs are putting on my arms, pressing them apart? Is it even possible to hook the ankles while drawing the things in? Trouble is, I don't care. If I cared, this could be interesting.
Then blah blah blah, walking in my sleep throughout the next blah blah blah boring seated postures. At least I am able to roll onto my entire forehead for Setu Bhandasana now, so my hairline isn't getting ripped up. That's an interesting discover, actually, that yoga annoyances, like bruised arms, and scaly hairlines, and Linda, if you're reading this, rug burn, actually time themselves out over awhile. They die off. Unfortunately, I don't care much. This is only barely of interest to me.
And when THAT is done, it's onto...Second. No excitement here. Just a bunch of Bikram poses, really. On the belly, arch up. On the belly arch up with the feet pressing down. On the belly arch up catching the feet in the hands. On the belly, fall over. On the belly, fall over. On the belly, give yourself a hamstring cramp. Then Ustrasana, with its interesting effect on me - makes me desperate to put my hands down and do Kapotasana. But by the time I get to Kapotasana, I don't want to anymore. I think it's Laghu. HATE that pose. HATE HATE HATE that boring pose. It does nothing for me, only makes me bored and my quads tired.
Then the decision - to go straight into backbends? Or to muss around with the rest of my assigned poses...all extremely boring to me. Of course. Supta Vaj? Who cares. Bakasana? Blech. Been there, done that. Can't I throw in Astavakrasana? I'll come into it from standing. How's that? Maybe even learn to jump into it...but not from a headstand or a handstand. No. Not even remotely interested in anything like that. And what if I added Parsva Bakasana after Pasasana. Wouldn't that spice things up?
What, is this me turning away from Ashtanga and toward Jivamukti? I can see why Tim Miller conducts Improv classes.
Ashtanga can just be so. Boring.
The other day on my 3 mile walk around the Nature Preserve that Shall Be Nameless to Protect the Innocent (Lewis, my dog, celeb that he is), I decided to run it and walk it. Run...walk...run run run...walk....run run run run run run...walk. I probably ran two thirds of it. Shit. What if I want to be a runner again? That would be so bad for my hip flexors. Maybe in moderation, it would be okay?
BORED. BORED. BORED.
Posted at 9:14 AM
I guess I only take these when I am feeling really good, physically, while backbending. It makes me want to see and record what it actually looks like to feel the way that feels.
Had a six-day practice week last week, took Friday and Saturday off, started again yesterday. Yesterday was Primary plus Pasasana and today was my full practice, up to Eka Pada. I wore socks during Kapotasana and and touched them - stretched them way out of course. But the straighten and walk, straighten and walk (the hands) method seems to be helping quite a bit.
Now that gardening season is offically over (first killing frost was this morning, and it killed all my Begonias, surprisingly, since I believe the Good Doctor assured me they would last until December...well, maybe in the city), I need another physical outlet. So, on Saturday, I took my first hike in a nearby Nature Preserve that actually allows dogs. It was SO much fun. Reminded me of walking Lewis in the city, except whereas we would see 40 dogs each time we walked in the city, now we see about 4. I went yesterday and today also. Took about an hour each time, took different paths, got a bit lost, as would be expected, and which makes it all the more fun - since you know you will get unlost eventually, it's not scary, but rather challenging, breathed in a lot of fresh autumn air, took in a lot of gorgeous autumn sights and decided that like it or not (and at the moment, I do like), I am going to walk Lewis on a daily basis. That dog is so so happy when I get out the leash, and he is a different (read: perfectly behaved) dog when he's out in nature. So, I am going to make time for walking this winter. It should be good for me too. Good for the legs, good for the heart, good for the sake of mixing things up.
I'm very excited!
Posted at 4:02 PM
My wrists were hurting me in backbends, but only sometimes. After being really bummed out about it for a bit, it dawned on me that they were only hurting me when my back wasn't bending enough to get my hands flat on the floor and my arms in a fairly straight line, close to perpendicular to the floor. And so, I have decided that it's not my wrists at all, nor my shoulders, but my back. It needs to bend more.
Someone suggested to me that the best thing for getting better at Kapo isn't "the big crank", but pressing up, up, up in Kapo B. I'm practicing mostly at home these days and have been experimenting with pressing up, up, up in Kapo B. In fact, I haven't even been bothering with Kapo A. I really want to emphasize getting my chest higher, higher higher before I even bother walking my hands in. I mean, hell, I know that I can be cranked into it. But what I really want to be able to do is to get myself into it and then to BE in it. And that is never going to happen until my chest opens and makes space for my back to bend more.
On Sunday, I experimented with pressing UP into Kapo B, as in from the the ground, as if I were pressing up into Urdhva Dhanurasana. Basically, I got into Supta Virasana (reclining hero's pose) and pressed up. That didn't get me very far at first. But it did warm me up to drop back into a better Kapo B. And patience helped. The first few breaths don't feel right. But it gets better. Then I had the idea to go from Urdhva Dhanurasana INTO Kapotasana B. I did a couple of UD's, warming things up nicely, and then I lowered one shin to the ground at a time.
VOILA!!! DEEPEST Kapo B ever.
So, to summarize, for anyone working with backbending issues who might want to try it at home:
1. Hanumanasana and Samakonasana after the Prasarita Padotanasanas. DO NOT sit down in Samakonasana unless your legs are at 180 degrees. Once you sit, the stretch is pretty much over. If you can keep supporting yourself with your hands, you keep the stretch going. Same with the rear leg in Hanumanasana. That is the one that relates to backbending. Make sure it is straight out behind you, not reaching around to the side. Otherwise, you're just avoiding the stretch that you really need. And if you can't lower your groin to the floor, the hold yourself up with your hands. If you're holding yourself up with your hands, then there is no need to fold over or to try to reach the hands skyward. Just work on stretching the groin and the hamstrings.
2. Try getting the back to bend BEFORE pressing up. For some people, that is obvious and easy. For people like me, not so much.
3. Try all sorts of permutations of backbends. From the floor. With the shins on the floor. With the elbows on the floor. Stretch the front body any way you can.
And that concludes today's session of "The Blind Leading The Blind".
Posted at 6:25 PM
Here is the latest from me on The Huffington Post.
Posted at 6:23 PM
I spent several hours last night and several more hours today chanting the many names of the Lord. Otherwise known as high holiday services at the synagogue.
I am in the choir, so I really had to participate, and I really had to learn the music and the words and to some extent, have an understanding of the meaning so that I could sing effectively.
The music is still playing in my head and it feels so auspicious to be haunted by "aveinu malkeinu" and "ya ribon alom" and "y'hu l'ratzon" and many versions of what we call "the adoration"
A lovely passage was included in services today, one which is credited to "an unknown confederate soldier". But it could just as well have been written by a Jew. Or a Christian. Or a Hindi. Or anyone who has surrendered themselves to a higher power: Isvara Pranidanha. Here it is:
"I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey...
I asked for health, that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things...
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise...
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God...
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I may enjoy all things...
I got nothing I asked for - but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among men, most richly blessed!"
After contemplating these words, when it came time to pray silently, as it does several times during the service, I tried to contemplate the "unspoken prayers" because I know that those are the ones that will be answered.
Shana Tovah, everyone.
Posted at 11:12 PM
Tim Miller was here in East Podunk, actually the Connecticut side thereof, teaching a workshop on Monday and Tuesday. I went. It was really really nice to practice in a room with mat-to-mat matheads. It was hot as hell, and I loved it. I was touched by Tim once on Monday - in Bhekasana. And once on Tuesday - he straightened out my leg in Marichyasana C.
Monday was Mysore practice with Pranayama following. Hated the pranayama. Wanted to kill myself during the pranayama.
Why do we practice Pranayama? Because it feels so good when we stop, maybe?
Tuesday was a double-long led Primary. He held each pose for "five" breaths, and by "five", I mean "TEN". ARGH. Not my favorite way to practice Primary, although I enjoy having the extra time in Marichyasana C and D and Supta Kurmasana. Other than that, I just want to blow through the poses. After that, we talked. I asked a question about religion and yoga and whether you have to believe in God to practice yoga, even though what I really wanted to ask was, how can one whose religion forbids the worshipping of idols and the bowing at the feet of humans reconcile the practice of yoga, with its inherent Hindu references, the chanting of the invocation, the bowing at the foot of the teacher, etc. Since I didn't ask the question I wanted to ask, I didn't get the answer I was looking for, whatever that answer might have been. When I think about it myself, the answer seems to be that we can pick and choose what parts of the yoga practice in which we can participate. And that's fine by me.
BUT, I am not sure that it is fine by everyone. I recall reading more than once that there are those who resent the "picking and choosing" of which parts of yoga to practice; such people feel that it is a mockery of their spiritual practice. I suppose the complaint is akin to an Orthodox Jew (a Jew who, theoretically, adheres to all Jewish tradition and rules) resenting Reform Jews, who take from the Jewish tradition that which makes sense for them in their lives. Reform Judaism is not a dumbed down version of Judaism, at least in my opinion (although some others would beg to differ); it is merely following the intention, but not the letter, of the tradition. To wade into another metaphor, it's akin to strict adherents to the US Constitution, who don't believe in the right to an abortion because abortion wasn't mentioned in the Constitution, and abortion would thus appear to violate the Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, minus the Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. A different construction of the US Constitution allows room for that which did not exist in the 1700's and imagines "what would the Framers do?"
Anyway. What I liked about the talk after the led was Tim's telling the story of Hanuman, who I must emphasize, is not a god to me. It is a story. A metaphor. A fable, like a really long Aesop's Fable. I didn't chant to the Hanuman Chaleesa afterwards because I have decided that it violates my religious beliefs. It IS a devotional song, and it's one thing for me to sing along to it on a Krishna Das or David Newman CD; it's quite another for me to chant it AS a devotional song. In the former case, I could just as well be singing along to Sarah Brightman. In the latter case, I might as well be in church.
I also liked Tim's talking about the good old days at the shala in Mysore and how he came to the practice (he taught first, practiced later. Yes, Tim was the original yoga "CRIMINAL", oh how it pains me to use that word).
Wednesday, I went to see the Good Doctor, not to be confused with the Jungle Physician or Neil Simon or Chekhov. Damn, but I love practicing in his presence. And although the five-on-one assist he orchestrated for my Kapotasana served only to freak me out, not once but twice, it was a noble experiment, and afterwards, all that adrenalin made for a really awesome Kapotasana B. Maybe my best ever.
Today, I went back to Val's place. She gave me the most awesomest Marichyasana D assist - not to get me into the pose - since I can do that quite handily and take the wrist of my non-grabbing arm, while the non-grabbing hand takes strong hold of one of my lotus leg. I feel like I could fit into a bowling bag when I get that tight. But anyway, Val came up to me AFTER I had bound, and twisted me deeper and got my back shoulder back, back, back, in effect giving me a bit of a backbend in my twist. Yum!
THEN....I took my first horseback riding less in like 25 years! And it all came back to me!!! I could post! I could trot and post! I even got into a canter for like two seconds. Three more free lessons (well, not totally free because I did bid money at an auction in order to win them), and then I am going to have to decide...should I go to yoga class only once or twice a week and spend my money on riding?
Nothing like a new obsession to get my juices flowing!
Posted at 4:05 PM
Why does it matter so much to be able to backbend or bind in Mari D or whatever it is we are trying to learn at any given time?
And it does matter. If it didn't, we wouldn't talk about it so much. We wouldn't write about it so much. We wouldn't read books about it. We wouldn't bother going to see a teacher for asana lessons. We wouldn't become teachers because we wouldn't understand why it matters to anyone else either.
But why? Why does it matter?
Well, it does FEEL good, physically, to be able to make a bind in some poses. And I don't just mean difficult binding poses like Mari D and Pasasana, etc. I mean, even grabbing the big toe in Trikonasana feels better than NOT grabbing the big toe.
When I see someone in Kapotasana with hands on heels, or someone in Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana with the sole of the foot curled around their own head, it looks so satisfying. It looks like the hand, or foot, as the case may be, was just meant to be there. It's like the heel was designed as a hand rest. And the sole of the foot, designed to curve elegantly around the head.
The way the arm gets into position for a bound twist, the way the legs curl around the arms for Bujapidasana, the way the legs find their way to the arms in Bakasana B - when you get it right, it feels like hitting the sweet spot of a tennis racket. Whoomp - right into place.
But there's more than that. There must be ego involved. If there weren't, then there would be no reason for the whole line of comments on my most recent backbending post.
Posted at 12:47 PM
Slowly, slowly, slowly, by fits and starts, it gets better. Yesterday, my wrists hurt so much, I couldn't press up into a backbend. I think I have arthritis in my wrists. I already have it in a couple of knuckles. That sucks. I hope that continuing to practice the yoga will stave off the onsent of arthritis in my wrists. I don't care so much about my fingers. But my wrists, I need them.
Posted at 3:23 PM
Here's my latest rant on the Huffington Post: Newsflash: Breast Cancer Sucks, And You Could Die From It.
It's tough to make a case for that when you're alive and well and living in the suburbs. But I think a lot of people tend to forget it, and it's pretty easy to do so these days. My article discusses why that is - and, please be forewarned: I lay partial blame on the Knicks City Dancers.
Posted at 6:51 PM
How are you doing? hope all is well with you. I am sorry that i didn't inform you about my traveling to England for a program called Empowering youth to fight racism,Hiv/Aids,and lack of education.
I need a favour from you as soon as you recieve this e-mail because i am presently in United Kingdom and i came accros a very good business offer,If i can secure this offer i will make about $7000 profit when im back in the states, i will like you to assist me with a soft loan urgently with thsum of $2,500 US Dollars to sort-out this business and i will pay you back the money with 10% intrest as soon as im back.
I will realy appreciate whatever you can afford and i'll pay you back as soon as i return,Kindly let me know if you can be of help? so that i can send you the Details to use when sending the money through western union.I look forward to read from you soon.
This was the email that went out under my Hotmail address recently to hundreds of my contacts, some of ya'all included.
The thing was, I didn't write it.
I first became aware of the fact that someone had hacked into my Hotmail account and used it to perpetrate a version of the "Nigerial Email Scam" when my mom called me, mere seconds after having received the offending email to tell me: "Someone stole your identity! You have to call the police. You have to call the FBI. You have to call the credit bureaus..."
She had to be mistaken. This was not possible. I mean, I was using my Hotmail account just minutes before.
Except that she was not mistaken. When I clicked on my "Sent" messages, there it was. Panic rose in my throat as I considered whether people might believe that I was actually asking them for money. Or whether they would know that it was a fake but deride me for having become vulnerable to a hacking, somehow.
And anyway, how did someone send a message from my account in the first place?
My friend S clicked in, and I hung up on my mom, who as much as I love her, was doing a superb job of pointing out the problems afoot, but not really doing much to help me to arrive at solutions. S, a particularly calm and clever law school friend, calmed me down immediately by pointing out that all was not lost since I was still able to access my account.
What was odd about that was that it soon became apparent that the hacker had already changed my password, which meant that I might not be able to access my account for long.
So, I had to figure out a way to change my password yet again, thus fully wresting control of my account from my hacker. The problem was that in order to change my password, I needed the current password. And only the hacker could help me with that. And he wasn't talking (except to ask for money from my friends, professional contacts and others who had made the seeming mistake of entrusting me with their email addresses).
So, I had to go through the "Forgotten Password" procedure, which offered me two choices. One was to have my password sent to me at my "alternate email address". Unfortunately, this was out of the question, since I quickly discovered that my hacker had already changed the "alternate email address" to his own. The other choice was to use my "secret question".
I held my breath as I typed the answer to my "secret question". What WAS the name of my first pet anyway? When I opened my Hotmail account 10 years ago, was I thinking of my first dog? Or was I thinking of a pet turtle that I had before that? If I had been thinking of the dog, would I have typed her full name? Or her nickname? And what if my hacker had already changed the answer to my "secret question"?
Somehow, by some miracle, I typed the magic words, and Hotmail allowed me to create a new password. (Now that I think about it, it is actually quite disturbing how easy it was to do so, which goes a long way to explaining how my account got hacked in the first place.)
You might be wondering why I didn't call someone at Hotmail to help me with this. Well, let me tell you: I tried. But apparently, Hotmail doesn't have an emergency fraud line, or for that matter, any sort of help line. All you can do is email them and wait for a response, which in my case came many hours later in the form of a list of ways to avoid being hacked in the first place.
But anyway, after rejoicing at having gotten my account back and after drafting an apologetic email to all of my contacts ("Please send no money, and please accept my apologies..."), which I could not even send until nearly 24 hours later because my hacker had used up all of my emailing privileges for the day (who knew there was a limit on how many emails you could send out in a day on Hotmail?), I was finally able to sit back and enjoy the hilarity of some of the email replies my hacker's handiwork had wrought.
Here are my favorites:
-"Thanks for writing me about this. I'm really interested in this offer. Can you send me more details after you kindly go fuck yourself?"
-"What's going on there? Does your husband know about this? Do you really need money? If you're in some kind of trouble, I can help you."
-"I don't get it. What do the children w/aids have to do with the business opportunity that will make you $7000 and for which you're requesting a loan?" (the friend who wrote this later told me that he was just "messin' with the hacker"...but I wonder...was he really just considering an irresistable business deal? Hmmmm).
Another friend wrote only after I sent my apology: "We just sent $10,000. We thought you needed it. Please let me know who to call to get it back."
But my favorite reply was from our mutual friend and Ashtangi, Arturo, who assumed that I had, in fact, written the initial email, but that I had intended it as a satire. He commented that while it was "mildly funny", it contained "insufficient pathos". When I explained the actual circumstances, he was the one who told me that I need to write about this experience.
And so, in honor of Arturo, who made me laugh the hardest on a most unpleasant day, I give you the following "Nigerian Email Scam" that, if I were so inclined, I would really write:
"Dear Beloved Freind or Email contact,
I am Miss Lauren Cahn from Westchester. I come from living in New YOrk City for 20 years and now find myselff to be stranded in small town oppression by gas prices extortion and road kill, and with no use for my stilettos because all of the ladies are wearing Uggs instead. What disturbs me most is my allergies, and I fear for the welfare of my nosejob.
I have learned recently of an opportunity that I might purchase an handbag in one Store in city. That handbag is one that my doctor say may make me suffer less the agonies of being strended in not the big city. It is called "BIRKIN" and your kindliness could help me to put it to a good usage.
I only will set out to utilize the Birkin for godly purposes like taking it with me to visit orphans who are sick with the hiv/aids and lack of education.
Unfortunately, the Store will not release the bag into my possession wtihout the payment by me of the sum of $4,000. I do not want to ask you for this sum. But I am going to ask you for this sum.
As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of a BANK in Kumbaya. I will also issue you a letter of authority that will give you absolutely no power over this money in the future.
Your reward is my happiness. My happiness is my reward. Your happiness is not really a part of this, but your money is. So send some please and I shall send prayers for you to my alma mother. Please be always prayerful and send me the money so that I may get my Birkin bag and help the orphans with aids and lack of education.
Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I so stated in this letter to which I wrote to you in the hobnestest recesses of my material desires. Remain blessed my beloved friend amd send me your money as soon as possible/.
Blessed be Birkin Bags,
Miss Lauren C"
Posted at 9:33 PM
It's that time of year again, when Jews all over the world start to think about the Jewish Forgiveness Trifecta: (1) What they are sorry for, (2) To whom they should ask for forgiveness and (3) What constitutes appropriate amends.
According to rabbinical tradition, if you ask for forgiveness and make reparations, then the person to whom you have asked forgiveness and made reparations MUST forgive you.
We talked about that today at a workshop at my synagogue for the parents and children involved in the religious school. It was a rather unsatisfying discussion in that it raised far more questions than provided answers (thus, reminding me of law school; damn Socratic method of teaching).
1. What IS forgiveness? Is it an emotion or an action? And if it is an emotion, then is it even possible for someone to be obligated to forgive? How does one compell a feeling?
2. Aren't some bad acts unforgivable? If a nazi asks a Jew for forgiveness for the nazi's actions in murdering Jews during the Holocaust, must the Jew forgive? If a child molester asks for forgiveness from the parents of a victim, must they forgive? If the answer is no, is it because there is simply no possible reparation?
3. How does forgiveness figure into the politics and polemics of the Middle East? Would forgiveness on an individual level help to bring about forgiveness on a cultural level? And if so, is forgiveness in this set of circumstances even possible? Is it possible for it NOT to be possible?
I thought I'd bring up these nuggets before mentioning that I played the role of the Lady Who Lunches today, meeting my friend S in New Canaan at a restaurant frequented by Richard Gere. Unfortunately, he was not there today. But lunch was delicious, and S and I talked about politics, gardening, yoga and whether we want to go back to work, now or ever. She and I were roommates in law school, and we both had some success in our careers before leaving it behind. She is more inclined to go back to work than I am. I quite enjoy my leisurely life.
Nevertheless, I had an odd dream early this morning, an interesting and disturbing prologue to our lunch. In the dream, S had a great job, and I didn't work. And she was happy and fulfilled, and I was anxious and uncomfortable and desperate to find work that would make me happy. I found it strange that my subconscious might be providing me with enough ambivalence about my life choices that my conscious need not even be bothered. Except when for whatever reason, my conscious mind remembers the dream and then feels grumpy all day about it.
Still, and this is for my fans out in the far Northwest: I luv being a lady who lunches. If you watch Madmen, then you will know what I mean when I say, I am totally a Betty. I've even taken to wearing a-line shirt dresses...with crinoline. Seriously. That's what I wore last night to the country club my friend J and her family invited us to as their guests. Ah, the good life.
Practice did kind of suck after a two course lunch, two sodas and the large coffee I had at the gas station in Pound Ridge on the way home. But I was proud of myself for practicing, when I knew it would suck.
And that made it kind of good.
Posted at 9:57 PM
It may not be pretty. But it's all that I've got.
At least as far as Eka Pada Sirsasana goes. And this is my better side. And I put it out there knowing that in the grand scheme of EPS, it really kinda sucks. More than kinda. But here's the thing - this was on 10 second self-timer (the pre-adolescent at home refused to help me). And here's another thing - I have only been practicing this pose for like two months, and I couldn't keep my leg behind my head before, pretty or ugly, bent over or not. So, if I can do this now, assuming the absence of injuries, then why shouldn't it be a whole lot prettier someday?
Posted at 5:55 PM
Now, I must practice. MUST. PRACTICE. MUST. PRACTICE.
Will somebody please make me practice?
(I love, love, love, love zinnias, and I grew these from seed. You wouldn't believe how tiny zinnia seeds are from looking at the amazing plants that grow from them!)
Posted at 3:40 PM
I find the internet so distasteful right now.
I got hacked last week. My hotmail account, that is. Some of you got an email from "me" that sounded an awful lot like the ole Nigerian Email Scam. I dealt with it, hijacked my account back from the hacker, sent out an apology and "do not send money" email to my contacts, but I still felt violated.
As a result, I have been kind of disgusted with all things internet. Haven't posted to the Huffington Post, haven't posted here. Have been trying to keep up with emails and Facebook.
So, here I am dipping my toe in the water again.
I can bind Pasasana without props or assistance now. Granted, I've been practicing in the afternoon. But still. I think that is news worth repeating.
Next up: Catching my own toes in Kapotasana. Only then will I really give a rat's ass about keeping my leg behind my head. Notwithstanding the Good Doctor's willingness to allow me to practice up to Eka Pada Sirsasana, I guess I will always have a bit of Sir in my head, asking me why I am so anxious to keep my leg behind my head (I can get it there, but I can't KEEP it there...) when I can't even take my own feet in Kapotasana...yet. Not that I know that Sir would be saying that. But I feel that he would.
All in all, practice is the same as always. I am in a home practice mode. And it is nice. But it takes too long. I would love to gain the discipline to practice outside without feeling the need to prune the shrubbery halfway through Primary or before I get to Kapotasana. Or to practice inside without checking to see if there are any really good movies on...like Brokedown Palace, which provided an interesting backdrop to yesterday's practice....
Posted at 11:03 PM
Watching Monfils versus Korolev (who the "f" are they?). It smells like curry here in the Armstrong stadium. I have no idea why.
Watches Venus trounce someone in the Ashe stadium earlier.
I find this boring, and to my delight and consternation, a glass of chardonnay helped take the edge of boredom off.
Unfortunaely, it is wearing off.
Posted at 5:19 PM
Yesterday, I did a super-disciplined practice from the Sun Salutations through all of Standing. The Good Doc would have been proud (I think), as I initiated every movement with the breath, I never took my heels off the mat once they were planted, I did not do any researchy things like putting my knee down to twist in Parsvakonasana B (the twisted one) and I stayed very very focused.
But when I got to the floor, I realized that I had very little time, and definitely not enough to get to all of the poses I like or am currently "working on". So, I veered off into a totally non-Ashtanga, but Ashtanga-based personal practice, which is to say that I did Ashtanga poses, but in a highly untraditional way.
I covered all of Primary up through Mari A without any vinyasas in between. Then I skipped to Mari C, then to Bujapidasana, then Tittibhasana, then Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana, then Yoga Nidrasana, then Supta Kurmasana again. Then Eka Pada Sirsasana, then straight into Kapotasana. Then Urdhva Dhanurasana.
And the funny thing: my UD was my best ever, at least my best ever caught on film. Compare the above with the below, up until yesterday, my gold standard.
I even caught some up-down, up-down, up-down drop backs on film:
Posted at 7:34 AM
I recorded this 1975 Peter Weir-directed film on DVR. Not sure why. And not sure why I felt drawn to watching it late last night. But I did...and...wow. Has anyone else seen it? It was mind-blowing. It is shoving Donnie Darko aside for my most favorite movie ever. I love these mysterious, open-ended stories. I guess I love torturing myself...
Posted at 12:09 AM
*****FOR BRAND NEW BEGINNERS:
30 Minute Intro Class
*At a location on the Upper East Side convenient to the 6 Train - Preregistration is required; upon registration, location will be disclosed. Email email@example.com. Or call 212.529.9434.
*********FOR ALL LEVELS:
75 to 90 Minutes Classes
***AT THE SHALA (815 Broadway, 2nd Floor, between 11th and 12th Streets):
*Aug 28 (Thurs) 10:30 am
*Aug 29 (Fri) 9 am, 10:30 am. and 6:15 pm
*Aug 31 (Sun) 9 am
*NO PREREG NEEDED*
***AT YOGA TO THE PEOPLE (12 St. Marks Place, #4F)
*Aug 29 (Fri) 12:15 pm and 4:30 pm
*Aug 31 (Sun) 11:30 am
*NO PREREG NEEDED
Teachers are trainees with Ashtanga Yoga Sangha, where I did my 200 Hours in Ashtanga.
Posted at 6:39 PM
Well, not really.
I never really gave a crap about that. And I still don't.
So, apparently, the AYRI wants its authoried teachers to refrain from teaching anything but Primary and to refrain from giving Workshops.
What I look for in a teacher is not whether they are authorized. What I look for in a teacher as a threshhold question, is whether they have been taught by SKPJ. The reason is that while SKPJ is still alive, he is THE SOURCE. And if I cannot go to the source, I want to be taught by someone who has been to the source. Plain and simple.
In time, this will change. People will have been taught by Sharath. And perhaps someday, I will look for a teacher who has been taught by SKPJ or his grandson. Or perhaps in time, I will simply look for a teacher who has been taught by someone who has been taught by SKPJ or his grandson.
What I seek is as close to a "primary source" as possible. The further you get from the primary source, the more distilled is the teaching. I want the purest possible teaching.
After that, I care about a personal connection, trust, safety, a lack of greediness about teaching poses, a joy in teaching, a certain something.
My feeling is that these new restrictions on authorized teachers are going to simply make authorization irrelevant altogether. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot...
Posted at 10:54 PM
So, here is the result of a summer of warm weather, a lot of Kapotasanas and sheer persistence. Maybe you can't see progress, but it FEELS better to me. I always say that...because it's always true.
Uh oh...this one was taken in June...is there really much of a difference at all...maybe a teeny bit of arm angle was reduced since June. But, crap. This DOES take a long time. For me at least.
Posted at 4:11 PM
Sure, I'm using belts to pull my hands in. But at the moment, the belts are my teacher since the kids have come home from camp, and I am now "grounded" (happily, to be honest).
I got the idea to use belts from Donut Zen Mom's use of ropes. Hers were attached to her wall. Mine are secured around the balls of my feet. I couldn't see myself being able to walk my hands in the way DZM does. But I could see myself being able to hold onto a belt and rotate my arms into place as I show in this video:
I know it's not Ashtanga if you use props. But props plus my own personal intuition-based playbook of R&D is the way I have learned EVERY single pose with which I have struggled. Sure, teachers put me in those poses. But to learn to do it myself, this has always been the only way.
I never thought I would get even CLOSE to this approximation of Kapotasana. And it hasn't even been six months. I am feeling optimistic that barring some "unforseen horrible", I will one day be able to take Kapotasana by myself, without props.
Unfortunately, my Supta Kurmasana has been suffering a bit - I am not as easily putting myself into it these days. Not sure if it is the angle at which I am placing my legs, which would be a function of learning Eka Pada. Or if it is my emphasis on backbending lately. Or maybe it's just having lots and lots of Diet Snapple in my tummy - it's summer, and I have been drinking so so so much lately, sometimes as much as 50 ounces before getting to the mat.
No trouble getting into Supta K when someone else puts me in it, whether it's the Good Doc, one of my fellow students or the Husband (on the rare occasion when I can coerce him into helping me). So, not sure what the problem is. But I hope it goes away soon.
Pasasana is steadily, but slowly, improving. I can reliably bind it on my own at home. Never in the shala. Not sure why that is. Maybe it's because sometimes I have to try a few times before succeeding, and I never get the chance at the shala. What is it with that pose? Why is it even THERE?
Eka Pada is going to be a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG time coming. And I don't care. I really don't care at all. I enjoyed it initially because it took the pressure off the Kapotasana. And now that Kapotasana is coming along, and my standing-up is improving as well, I feel less obsessed with Eka Pada. So, my leg won't stay behind my head. It will eventually. The hip sockets simply need to soften up so that the leg doesn't cry out to jump out from behind my head. When it can relax itself right above my shoulders, then it will stay on its own, and nothing anyone does is going to make that happen. It just will happen when it happens.
What else, let's see...
I have been bike riding again, finally. When my kids came home, I wanted to bike again - hadn't biked all summer, maybe due to the heat, maybe due to the fact that I had been spending so much of my energy on the garden. So we have twice explored the North County Trail, a no-cars-allowed (for the most part) trail that runs up through Westchester County starting halfway up (the South County Trail connects it to New York City). I'd like to continue riding through Thanksgiving, like I did last year. It feels nice to do be outdoors, it feels nice to push the pedals, and it seems as if strengthening my legs in this non-yoga way might be good for my drop-backs and stand-ups. Well, it has been for the past two days at least.
I really like having my kids home. They ground me. And I am in need of that.
Posted at 11:12 AM